USS Lexington, TX 2021
While exploring the Corpus Christi area in March of 2021, my wife (Becky) and I had the opportunity to take a day to visit the U.S.S. Lexington.
The USS Lexington serve on active duty for 48 years. During that time she has had the distinction of an Aircraft Carrier (A.C. 1943-1952), Attack A.C. (1952-1962), Antisubmarine A.C. (1962-1969), Training A.C. (1969-1978), Auxiliary Training A.C. (1978-1991), & Museum (1991-Present).
The U.S.S. Lexington serves as a museum that provides a link to the past through exhibits that honor and memorialize those people who serve our country, the vessels they served on, the planes they flew and the battles they fought.
The U.S.S. Lexington CV 16 was nick-named “The Blue Ghost” by the Japanese (in WWII) who, whenever they claimed to have sent her to the bottom of the Pacific, found her cruising again in their back yard. Tokyo Rose, (a radio propagandist), had personally and repeatedly sent her to the bottom. “It was a ghost,” she said, “A blue ghost.” Lady Lex was the only carrier not camouflaged. She maintained her original Blue-gray color. Japanese pilots would report that they had seen, hit and sunk a great blue ship, this happened four times.
Pictured above, in this armored area are the ship’s primary instrument that control and monitor her movements and peed. During combat conditions, the portholes and watertight door were closed. The above photo shows pilothouse equipment that includes: Gyrocompass Repeaters, Rudder Angle Indicator, Engine Order Telegraph, Engine Revolution Indicator, Helm and Magnetic Compass.
Pictured above, from 1943-1991, thirty-three captains made this tiny room their home while at sea. The cabin features a chair, a small desk, a small safe, a closet, an oscillating fan, a bed and a head (bathroom) with a shower. Notice that the bed has a raised “freeboard” to keep the captain from rolling out of bed in rough weather. The cabin is located just aft of the pilothouse and bridge, enabling the captain to be at the bridge within seconds if need be.
Lexington’s chart house is just aft of the pilothouse on the same deck. The ship’s navigator and a team of quartermasters did much of their work here. The navigational team kept a constant plot of the ship’s position at any given moment as well as a plan of where the ship was going. Tools of their trade included navigational equipment such as sextants, stadimeters, bearing circles, stopwatches, parallel rules, dividers, protractors, position plotters, electronic devices and navigation charts and tables.
Pictured above, the Combat Information Center can almost be compared to the human brain. It collect information from many sources, then evaluates the information on the status of the ship, as well as other ships, both friend and foe in the area. It then directs the ship to accomplish its mission. This room contains post-World War II computers, however, the clear plastic plot boards were still marked by hand from behind the boards by personnel who received their information through their headsets. The data was written on the plot boards backwards, from right to left, so the command staff on the officer’s platform could read the information.
Air Ops is where planning and coordination for flight operations on the carrier were made. Close contact was required with the Air Boss, Carrier Air Traffic Control Center, Combat Information Center, the flight deck, hanger controls, squadron ready rooms and maintenance. The plot board listed all information for the day’s flying schedules: what squadrons were flying which planes, launch and return times, rescue helicopter status and other outbound traffic.
Pictured above, the Ready Room served as a briefing area for the pilots and air crew prior to a mission. Because our naval pilots made carriers the dominant naval weapon of WWII, these rooms were designed for their orders to launch their planes, they could nap in the padded recliners, read, play cards and in general, just relax in air-conditioned comfort.
Pictured above, the ship belonged to the Captain and when the Admiral was onboard, he was considered a “guest.” His quarters, although quite accommodating, were not as “lavish” as the Captain’s quarter. When the Admiral was onboard, the entire ship functioned as a flagship.
Pictured above, the Captain’s office had a sofa and chairs for staff who net with him regarding ship’s business. During WWII this room was the chief-of-staff living area.
Picture above, the Admiral’s dining room was also used for conferences and entertaining VIPs. The color of the table and chair coverings indicated the purpose of the meeting to be held in this room: white (dining), blue (meetings), & green (mast).
Pictured above, located on the gallery deck is the Captain’s cabin. It offers a stateroom (bedroom), bathroom, walk-in closet and a large sitting room and dining area for his guests’ comfort. Keep in mind, US Navy vessels conduct diplomacy by “showing the flag” in foreign ports. In these instances, the Captain becomes a combination host and goodwill ambassador, and his quarters need to reflect this status.
Pictured above, this Officers’ Stateroom, (like others), was located along the starboard side of the Foc’sle deck. Single occupancy quarters often served as an office as well as a bedroom and were furnished with a bed, dresser, desk, wall safe, bookcase, wash sink and lockers.
Pictured above, often referred to as “Boys Town,” this area was occupied by ensigns (commissioned naval officers of the lowest rank), and junior officers on temporary assignment. Their lounge has a gameboard to pass the time away. The bunks, known as racks, were divided by alleys. In addition to their bed and lockers, they had a fold-down desk.
Pictured above, keeping mice and rats from entering ships is important task. Rodents will gnaw on electrical insulation which can cause electrical shorts, outages, or fires. They also get into food stores. The most effective tool to keep rodents off of the vessels are rat guards. These are round disks that fit over tending lines that prevent the rodents from climbing up to the ship.
Pictured above, injured or ill personnel who were not contagious stayed in the Sick Bay Ward until they were well enough to return to their own berth (bed).
Pictured above, the photo shows the Triage or Surgery Room, in which everything from treating minor cuts to major non-invasive procedures could be performed. The room could also function as a full-scale surgical room if needed. The bulkheads (walls) and overhead (ceiling) are designed for quick and effective cleaning and sterilizing for major surgical procedures.
Pictured above, is the Doctor’s Examination room. The doctor’s office has a connecting head (lavatory). Doctors aboard US Navy ships were called “Flight Surgeons” and were qualified to take care of all the needs of the ship’s hospital.
Picture above, this room was used for the treatment of eye conditions or injuries.
Pictured above, approximately 3,700 X-rays were shot every month in this lead-lined X-ray room.
Pictured above, diagnostic interpretations were conducted here. Drawing blood and preparation for blood transfusions were major responsibilities of the Hospital Corpsmen assigned here. Medical environmental standards concerning heat stress, water purity, etc. were also tested and maintained in the lab.
Pictured above, the USS Lexington had a fully-equipped, very extensive dental department. It was staffed by 2 dentists and 7 technicians. There are 3 examination/procedure rooms, an X-ray room and of course, the waiting room. Nearly every type of dental procedure could be performed on board, from routine cleanings to fillings, extractions and more.
Pictured above, Becky is wondering around the dining area of deck 3 where the crew of enlisted men and women brought their meals from the mess line. The galley operated 24/7, and all departments were assigned different time slots for meals; therefore dining was done in orderly fashion. Also on the mess deck was a “Geedunck Stand”, which served soft drinks, ice cream and candy.
Pictured above, the daily requirements of raw vegetables and meats needed in the galley to prepare the recipes of the day came from these rooms. Raw vegetables and fruits were scrubbed, washed, and peeled, based on what the produce was to be used for, such as in soup or as a cold salad. Cuts of meat were butchered from large carcasses and the meat was sliced, cubed or ground to the specifications of the recipe it was to be used in.
Picture above is the window to the Post Office. Postal Clerks manned the post office and sorted mail by department, then by person. A designated person from each department went to the mail room and picked up the mail for his/her crewmates. The announcement “Mail Call” was made and crew went to their designated place on the ship where they waited for their name to be called to collect their mail. The US mail was delivered by tanker, supply ships or dropped by aircraft about every three weeks.
Pictured above, the room with three chairs was used for enlisted men. The ship’s barbers were men selected from the crew. They were trained and held the rank of ordinary seaman barber and worked under a chief barber.
Pictured above is a 1,240 square-foot machine shop. A ship at sea for long periods of time must have the capability of making repairs. Compound that with a ship that carries aircraft, and an extensive repair shop is needed. Machinery Repairman often solved repair problems by fabricating new parts and did so with the equipment seen here. Equipment includes an engine lathe, pedestal grinder, radial arm drill press, vertical milling machine, bench grinder, drill press, dynamic balancing machine, horizontal milling machine, pantograph and a power hacksaw.
The USS Lexington was the first aircraft carrier to have a female personnel aboard in 1980. Women served in all capacities, from jet fighter pilots to officer of the deck to enlisted crew. Pictured above, female berthing is located on the second deck. Berths were the same as those of the men’s. Each sailor had her/his own bunk and two lockers. Women’s population aboard varied from 85-400 in the Lexington’s later years.